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Jury ends deliberations in Amish trial, returns Friday

6:09 PM, Sep 13, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- The seven men and five women on the jury in the trial of the accused Amish finished their first day of deliberations Thursday just after 5 p.m. without reaching a verdict.

They will return at 9 a.m. Friday to continue deliberations.

On Thursday, not three hours into deliberating, it appeared the panel was dealing with the very heart of the case...does this rise to the level of a federal hate crime?

They asked for the definitions of "disfigurement" and "mental faculty."

Once all the attorneys and defendants assembled in the courtroom by 11:45 a.m., Polster said his reply would be "As for disfigurement, Congress did not define disfigurement so I am not use your own common sense and your everyday experiences....look at how bodily injury is defined in the instructions as any injury to the body..."

 " for mental faculty, (prosecutors) have not argued that any victim suffered an injury of a mental capacity...."

Prosecutors did not object to his language and only two defense attorneys asked for a minor modification but Polster denied the modifications.

Polster called the jury back in at 12:14 p.m. and told them the answers verbally.

Polster gave the case to the jury just before 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The jury is deciding a total of 80 counts against the 16 defendants  --10 men and six women -- ranging from conspiracy to lying to the FBI.

Nearly all of the defendants are on trial for cutting the hair and beards of fellow Amish whom they say were going against Amish teachings.

The central figure that has emerged among the defendants is Samuel Mullet Sr., 66, the leader of the breakaway Amish sect known as the "Bergholz clan."

The sect, composed of about 21 families, is in Bergholz, Ohio, about 100 miles southeast of Cleveland.

Mullet is not charged with any of the actual cuttings but is accused of encouraging his followers to make the attacks. He is charged with conspiracy and lying to the FBI, among other count.

The five attacks occured between Spetember and November of 2011 and involved nine victims. The male victims had their hair and beards cut off and the women had their hair cut.

On Oct. 9, just days after the second and third of the five attacks occured on Oct. 4, Mullet Sr. denied to WKYC that he had anything to do with the attacks.

Mullet Sr. did admit that he knew about the raids, in which Amish men have their beards cut off, and Amish women and men have had their hair cut, but had nothing to do with the incidents.

"They say I did but they don't believe anything I say," Mullet said then. "Because I'm the oldest here and I'm the bishop, I'm responsible."

Mullet Sr. said whoever is responsible for the attacks has religious, not criminal motivation.

"It's all religion," he maintained, "that's why we can't understand why the sheriff has his nose in our business. It started with us excommunicating members that weren't listening or obeying our laws. That's where it all started. I didn't know the courts could stick their nose in religion, but that seems what they did here."


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